The Atlantic Daily: Superstar Cities Are in Trouble

The pandemic-driven pivot to working from home is changing America’s cities. Then: Coronavirus cases are easing. Is it okay to feel optimistic?

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The pandemic-driven pivot to working from home is changing America’s cities. Then: Coronavirus cases are easing. Is it okay to feel optimistic

A WFH zoom screen imposed on a for sale sign
GETTY / THE ATLANTIC

It may not feel like it, but that video call you took in your pajamas is part of a new industrial revolution, Derek Thompson argues in his latest. And that shift to remote work has huge consequences for America’s big coastal cities.

Derek offers four predictions about the future of work, in and out of those epicenters.

1. The post-pandemic workplace could see a new kind of supercommuter.

“The remote-work revolution could spawn the rise of something a little different: the affluent supercommuter who chooses to move to a big exurban house with the expectation that she’ll make fewer, longer commutes to the office.”

2. Coastal superstar cities may decline.

“These migration trends could spell long-term trouble for cities such as San Francisco and New York, where municipal services rely on property taxes, sales taxes, and urban-transit revenue.”

3. And that may give the rest of the country a boost.

“Superstar pain could be America’s gain—not only because lower housing costs in expensive cities will make room for middle-class movers, but also because the coastal diaspora will fertilize growth in other places.”

4. The next Silicon Valley is nowhere.

[One weird] possibility is that the remote-work revolution will eliminate the concept of a metro hub entirely, as companies embrace the reality of a permanently distributed workforce.

Further reading:


One question, answered: Have we turned a corner in the pandemic?

Alexis Madrigal, one of the COVID Tracking Project’s co-founder, offers his analysis on the latest episode of our Social Distance podcast:

I feel remarkably optimistic right now, at least for the next month or two. The numbers are really dropping. We’re seeing the lowest case numbers that we’ve seen since November and December. We’re seeing hospitalizations way off their peak and dropping really rapidly. We think deaths are going to have a different path, [given] the lag time between when somebody dies and when it’s reported. I think it could be some weeks before we really start to see deaths really come down.

For more, listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts.


Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

Catch up on late-night: Saturday Night Live returned from hiatus with “a big shrug,” our critic David Sims writes.

Today’s break from the news:

Here’s a whale of a tale: A group of orca outcasts is now dominating an entire sea.

For the first half of 2021, Lori Gottlieb's column will be on hiatus while she writes her next book. During that time, Rebecca J. Rosen, the column’s editor, will revisit some of Lori’s best work.

This month, reread Lori’s advice to four readers struggling with sex, heartbreak, and more.